According to a 2014 survey, ‘Freelancing in America’ conducted by independent research firm Edelman Berland, more than 53 million Americans are freelancing. In today’s on-demand economy, Americans are not only changing how they work, they are changing where they work as well.
Many freelancers and small business owners are moving towards shared office space and co-working facilities to increase productivity and get away from the distractions of laundry, television sets, and let’s face it … the comforts of home.
Companies like Uber Offices, WeWork and localized accelerators are thriving because they provide flexible, temporary collaborative spaces that may fit the immediate needs of some freelancers and small businesses.
Thinking About Shared Office Space?
While shared office space may be a sensible workspace solution for some, it is not one that should be entered into lightly. So, here’s a must-read checklist of 7 important (and often overlooked) things freelancers and small businesses should consider when looking for shared office space.
You want your office culture to fit your company culture. Find a space that offers things that are important to you and your employees. For instance, you don’t want to move a group of salespeople, hustling on the phone all day, into a space coveted for its quiet environment by a cluster of engineers. Some of the better office share platforms play matchmaker to create culture fits between office users to enhance efficiency. When doing your search, make sure you know and seek an environment where your team will thrive.
Some of the best spaces offer the opportunity for cross-company collaboration. A shared workspace can provide the occasion to interact and create relationships between founders that can lead to creative thought, new ideas and diverse thinking. Finding a host-guest with complementary skill sets or areas of focus can strengthen both relationships through close proximity and idea sharing.
Insurance and Liability Issues
Make sure you know about any specific insurance requirements for your new office space. As a guest you need to maintain your own renter’s policy as well as a general liability policy, but some hosts’ insurance will cover you for being in the space. Make sure you ask, so you can feel confident that you and your business are protected.
Amenities vary from space to space and can sometimes mean the difference between a good space and the right space for your company. Make sure the space has amenities you need for your business. For example, can you receive mail and deliveries at the space? Is wifi included in the rent? Can you bring your dog to work? Are there carry-out food or quick serve restaurants nearby? While most spaces allow mail and package deliveries, pet friendly spaces are not as common, so make sure if it’s an important amenity to your or your employees, ask. On our platform, Kinglet, all amenities are listed in the space offering, so you’ll know that you’re okay having Fido hang around your workstation.
Shared Office Services
Find out which additional office services are available at the shared office space you are considering. Additional services can range from secretarial assistance to marketing and legal services. Some locations provide free incoming calls, but charge extra for outgoing calls. So make sure you know exactly which services are included in your monthly rental rate. “Access” to conference rooms doesn’t always mean that you will be able to use the conference room. Try and get a gauge of how many other companies in the space will be competing for conference room time.
Hours of Operation
Most hours of operation are issued in the listing detail, but make sure you ask when touring the space. Don’t assume you can come in on a Saturday or Sunday, because not all shared offices will allow it. Also, don’t forget to ask: “Will I receive a set of keys to the office?” Many small businesses don’t work “regular” hours, so make sure that you can access the office when you are feeling most creative.
If you have employees that drive to work, make sure you are clear on the parking situation. Unless otherwise stipulated, it should be assumed that parking is outside of the quoted price per month. If it’s street parking, take this into consideration. Employees will ask how difficult parking can be on both a normal work day and extreme circumstances like a snow day, and consider the safety factors of having off-street parking.
Co-working space works well for some companies, but it may not be the ideal office for all. In today’s on-demand market, small businesses have options well beyond co-working. If you are charged with securing an office for your company, ensure you have truly assessed your needs and weighed your options. Set your company up for success from the beginning.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Alex Kopicki is the CEO and Co-founder of Kinglet, an online marketplace connecting entrepreneurs and small businesses with flexible and affordable office space. Alex is a commercial real estate industry veteran with experience in over $600 million in completed projects, more than 600 residential lots and 1,000,000 square feet of commercial development projects. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in real estate from the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. He was honored as a National Developing Leader by NAIOP in 2009 and named to the Baltimore Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40 list in 2014. He is a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council.